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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sasakawa money and Yonsei

Fists have been raised again at Yonsei University, several articles have appeared in Ohmynews and Hankyoreh has even had an editorial now that it has been found out that money from a foundation founded by the late Sasakawa Ryoichi, ultra-rightist, quick business mover in the Japanese-occupied areas during the war, convicted war criminal and a post-war businessman with a monopoly in gambling on motor-boat racing (from which the funds for his later donations stem from). (See also the mug shot of Mr Sasakawa after the war.)

Ok, why do I pay attention to this? Because I've taken money from that man. Or more precisely, from a fund establishment with a donation from a foundation established by Sasakawa. University of Helsinki one among the 69 universities has a Sasakawa fund, from which three one-year scholarships are given yearly for doctoral studies in Anthropology (!), East Asian Studies (!) and International Politics.

I have no trouble understanding the sentiments of the Koreans who have taken an issue with this; there are many institutions of higher learning which have refused Sasakawa money. But how come it became known or was paid attention to only now? With the general sour mood towards Japan? Demanding apology from Yonsei and the dissolution of the fund when the funds have been in use for 10 years, and not only that, but discharge (pojik haeim) of professors who have been involved (see Ohmynews article)
(Actually there was resistance in Yonsei against accepting the funds back in 1995.)

By the way, Korea University has also gotten money from the same source. Oh, they've found out that as well at Yonhap; the Koryo U. representative tells that the scholarship program has now been discontinued, and that Korea U. refused the same kind of money that Yonsei accepted in 1995 because it was from an ultra-rightist source.

Another Yonhap article via Ohmynews.

With the past that Ryoichi Sasakawa has, it doesn't make one proud to have one's name associated with him, but... the money was good, I lived and wrote my thesis with it for a year, and as is correct, the fund bearing his name will be named among the funding sources in my thesis. (What the hell am I making excuses here, at the time when Sasakawa was "active" in China, his nation and mine were on the same side and in good terms. I faintly remember that Finland would have provided Japan with some intelligence during the war and received bamboo to be used as skiing poles.)

Update.
• The editorial from Hankyoreh in English: Yonsei University's Outrageous Excuses
Kyungyang Sinmun editorial (Korean): University and Money; Kyunghyang isn't interested in condemning the fund but is hoping that the present controversy would make people question the practices and principles of universities' money gathering. (Otherwise, Kyunghyang doesn't seem to mention this issue at all; it is notable that Kyunghyang, which is often listed as "progressive" has much less nationalistic or anti-Japanese flavor than others.)

A few other things which have been an issue for the professors' association at Yonsei but which I didn't mention: Sasakawa money is going to the association (?) which is involved in making the school textbook said to whitewash the Japanese atrocities and the colonial past, and moreover, the foundation representatives are taking part in the association.

The weekly "Producer's Memo" (PD such'ôp) in the MBC television had last April one program with the title "Universities, unconcerned by settling the pro-Japanese past" (친일청산의 무풍지대, 학교), in which the acceptance of a 7.5 billion won donation from Sasakawa by Yonsei University was discussed.

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Comments to note "Sasakawa money and Yonsei" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Blogger Muninn> said on 3.6.05 : 

I am totally with you Antti. I accepted Sasakawa money in 1997 from the "Sasakawa Scandinavia - Japan culture fund" or something like that which I applied for through Norway. It supported my Japanese language studies at the Inter-University Center in Yokohama. I too can't stand the guy but why should we feel any shame in taking money that has helped us contribute positively to research on Korea and Asia, without any concern that the old war criminal himself might object to some of our findings.


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